PoS seminar 22.11. with Julie Zahle

At the next Perspectives on Science seminar on Monday 22.11., Julie Zahle (University of Bergen) will give a presentation titled “Reactivity in Qualitative Data Collection”. The seminar takes place in Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.

To join the seminar, please sign up here.

PLEASE NOTE: If you registered for this talk on 15.11. that was cancelled, the same Zoom invitation is still valid. You do not need to sign up again.


Reactivity in qualitative data collection occurs when the research participants are influenced by the researcher during data collection, as exemplified by the research participants diverging from their routines in the presence of the researcher or by their telling the researcher what they think she wants to hear. In qualitative research, there are two basic approaches to reactivity. The traditional position maintains that data should be uncontaminated by reactivity since data otherwise fail to be informative about social life independently of its being studied. In short, good data are reactivity-free. By contrast, the more recent view holds that data about situations with reactivity are also informative about social life independently of its being studied. This is the case insofar as the researcher is aware of the reactivity and takes it into account when drawing inferences from her data.

Thus far, the more recent approach to reactivity has not been spelled out and defended in any detail. In this paper, I take on this task. More precisely, I argue that good data are reactivity-transparent, and I consider the implications of this view for the practice of qualitative data collection. Further, I briefly indicate how my reflections on reactivity-transparent data contribute to recent philosophical discussions of data quality.

Author bio:

Julie Zahle is associate professor at University of Bergen. Her main area of research is the philosophy of the social sciences. In particular, she works on qualitative methods, values and objectivity in science, the individualism/holism debate, social theories of practice, and the philosophy of anthropology and sociology.